A recent Bon Appetit article showcased wonderful pastries from about a dozen “new school” bakeries around the United States. Baking is one of the oldest professions in the world. At the heart of every successful bakery business is a person or people who know the art and science of baking, care about its traditions and strive for the highest quality products.
Not a lot has changed at the core of bakery. It is “old school,” which is part of its appeal to both consumers and those who chose baking as a profession. But, much has changed particularly for retail bakeries looking to succeed in today’s highly competitive environment.
What can we learn from new school bakeries like the ones featured in Bon Appetit? They make the online experience of their business intriguing, inviting and reflective of their brands. How their brands look and attract customers online is a priority rather than an afterthought.
5 Things New School Bakeries Do Well
1. Social Media
They do social media well. New school bakeries focus most their efforts on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest. They post regularly, creatively and beautifully, showcasing great photos of their products and stories about their people. They use social media to build a following, get shared and get noticed. Not just to sell a product.
2. Websites With Personality
Their websites are well designed, easy to browse and represent the bakery’s personality. Whether it’s an upscale pastry shop or a down home pie den, a bakery’s website should immediately tell visitors what it’s about by its design, colors, graphics and photography. The really good ones entice visitors to stay a while and learn more.
3. Excellent Photography
Bakery appeals to all five senses, but the eyes are first. Photographs that show the beautiful
details of your products are a must, especially when trying to reach new customers and get noticed online. You may not need to hire a professional, but it definitely helps. Also be selective which products photograph best for your website. Not all need to be shown.
4. Beyond Brick-and-mortar Sales
Most new school bakeries offer some form of online sales or ordering capability through their website or third party site. Some don’t even have a dedicated brick-and-mortar retail space and are strictly online sales. The key is pinpointing not only your signature products, but also items that can hold up to shipping and potential gift appeal. A few new schoolers even offer subscription services, like a cookie of the month club. You might consider selling non-food items, like apparel, recipe books or classes. Think outside the bakery box.
5. Profitable Pricing
Granted, not every market can swallow $8 croissants or $4 donuts, like New York City. But, every bakery no matter where they’re located should review and revise their pricing. New school bakeries don’t have loss leaders, or products that are priced below cost to stimulate sales of other bakery products. That’s old-school thinking that has no place in quality bakeries. Finally, e-commerce prices need to take into account any of the extra packaging, labor, shipping, etc. required for this special service.
Pictured top: Brothers Kit and Jesse Schumann of Sea Wolf, a Seattle craft bakery.
(Photos by Jeremy Price courtesy of Sea Wolf, Seattle.)